Poll

condition of my hands after LEL

just fine, thank you
11 (17.7%)
numb / tingling fingers, but they're ok now
2 (3.2%)
numb / tingling fingers, even after a weeks rest
44 (71%)
fingers are fine, but got numbness elsewhere
5 (8.1%)

Total Members Voted: 62

Author Topic: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL  (Read 4881 times)

Re: numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2017, 01:35:57 pm »
IJL
Having solved the problem for you, perhaps just send me the money and go riding instead.  :)

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2018, 03:08:12 pm »
Resurrecting this thread as I'm still suffering numbness/weakness in the 4th/5th digits on both hands and up the medial side of both wrists and arms as far as the elbow, more than a week after finishing the West Highlands 1000. Worth seeing my GP? I've read that ongoing numbness related to ulnar damage can be caused by lesions which need treatment. Deltoid muscles also still feel tired - more so than my legs.

I did have a bike fit a year or so back but I may have lost a little flexibility and put on a bit of weight since then, which could be a contributory factor. I also have to admit that I'm one of those cyclists Tomsk mentioned upthread who tends to ride with straight arms. It's a bad habit and I don't necessarily notice I'm doing it at the time, but it's obvious when I see pictures of myself on the bike. Need to address that. I think the problem is that I tend to over-rely on my arms to support my upper body due to a weak core/back. Strengthening exercises may help there. And some weight loss.

Apologies if this is TMI, but another problem from that ride is some ongoing loss of sensation in the tip of my penis. I suspect the cause of this is the DHB shorts I wore on the third day - I could feel the pad bunching up in the middle, probably putting pressure on soft tissues and the pudendal nerve. They're going in the bin. I like to change shorts at intervals on long rides for hygiene but I think I'd have been better off wearing my supremely comfortable Rapha Brevet shorts for the whole three days.

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2018, 03:35:58 pm »
Resurrecting this thread as I'm still suffering numbness/weakness in the 4th/5th digits on both hands and up the medial side of both wrists and arms as far as the elbow, more than a week after finishing the West Highlands 1000.

I'm not at all medically qualified, but this isn't very long from a nerve's point of view.  After my first 1000 km audax I had the numbness/tingling in my little and ring fingers on both hands for several months.

To illustrate how slowly nerves recover, I've also had (completely unrelated) problems with nerve compression in my lower back caused by a herniated L5/S1 disc.  A short episode of nerve compression (caused by me sitting in an an awkward position for about 20 minutes) caused numbness in my right leg and near total loss of strength in dorsiflexion.  I was told by a consultant at the time that I should expect a recovery period of up to 18 months and, sure enough, 9 months later I've recovered most of the strength, but it's still a bit tingly!

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #28 on: June 13, 2018, 03:56:57 pm »
I'm not at all medically qualified, but this isn't very long from a nerve's point of view.  After my first 1000 km audax I had the numbness/tingling in my little and ring fingers on both hands for several months.

Hmmm. I get that it's not very long, but it's longer than any ride-related numbness has lasted before.

Oh well, maybe I just need to let it heal itself over time and address the causes rather than looking for cures...

Quote
I was told by a consultant at the time that I should expect a recovery period of up to 18 months and, sure enough, 9 months later I've recovered most of the strength, but it's still a bit tingly!

Don't like the sound of that at all.

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #29 on: June 13, 2018, 04:44:23 pm »
Nerves are buggers, as a result of stupidity (not mine for a change) I have no feeling in the tip of my little finger, on occasion it spreads to it's neighbour and the tingling runs all up my arm. I was told it'll never heal, 12 years on that's looking correct.

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2018, 04:59:35 pm »
You have my sympathies.  After the last LEL I could hardly use my left hand at all and the right wasn't a lot better.  It was at least a month before I was able to do anything that required me to put any pressure through my fingers and I'm afraid it wasn't until around the beginning of this year that full functionality returned.  Everyone is different, of course, but that's the worst I've experienced.  After previous PBPs I've had a couple of weeks of tenderness but I've still been able to waggle my fingers, even if they were too sore to type or fret a guitar string.

Padded gloves, padded handlbars, etc all help, I'm sure, but I suspect Tomsk is on the something as I'm also a bit of a stiffy...

...Which leads me nicely to your lower problems, I've experienced that too and I'd agree that it's down to getting the right bike fit and positioning, moving about a bit on the bike and wearing your personal favourite shorts.  After my first PBP I was numb for about a month, which I attribute entirely to wearing rubbish shorts.  On subsequent ones I've worn identical Rapha shorts throughout and not had any significant problems.
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #31 on: June 13, 2018, 06:03:55 pm »
Nerve compression injuries of this sort usually recover at around 1mm per day. If you squished your ulnar nerve at the wrist, it will take around 6 months to recover fully but some damage can be permanent.

Whilst padded bars and gloves can diffuse pressure on the nerves and their blood vessels, I think it is important to get ALL pressure off the nerves from time to time.

This applies to hands, saddle and more.

Zed43

  • prefers UK hills over Dutch mountains
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #32 on: June 13, 2018, 08:00:20 pm »
David, from the sound of it you got it worse than I did and it wasn't until December (5 months after LEL) until I declared myself healed...

LMT

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2018, 08:10:44 pm »
Resurrecting this thread as I'm still suffering numbness/weakness in the 4th/5th digits on both hands and up the medial side of both wrists and arms as far as the elbow, more than a week after finishing the West Highlands 1000. Worth seeing my GP? I've read that ongoing numbness related to ulnar damage can be caused by lesions which need treatment. Deltoid muscles also still feel tired - more so than my legs.

I did have a bike fit a year or so back but I may have lost a little flexibility and put on a bit of weight since then, which could be a contributory factor. I also have to admit that I'm one of those cyclists Tomsk mentioned upthread who tends to ride with straight arms. It's a bad habit and I don't necessarily notice I'm doing it at the time, but it's obvious when I see pictures of myself on the bike. Need to address that. I think the problem is that I tend to over-rely on my arms to support my upper body due to a weak core/back. Strengthening exercises may help there. And some weight loss.

Apologies if this is TMI, but another problem from that ride is some ongoing loss of sensation in the tip of my penis. I suspect the cause of this is the DHB shorts I wore on the third day - I could feel the pad bunching up in the middle, probably putting pressure on soft tissues and the pudendal nerve. They're going in the bin. I like to change shorts at intervals on long rides for hygiene but I think I'd have been better off wearing my supremely comfortable Rapha Brevet shorts for the whole three days.

Could also be the seat. If you have not got one, it might be worth looking at a saddle where the middle is missing which helps relive pressure on the perineum nerve. The Selle SMP would get my vote if I was to ever go back riding audax on a df bike.

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2018, 10:30:50 pm »
Resurrecting this thread as I'm still suffering numbness/weakness in the 4th/5th digits on both hands and up the medial side of both wrists and arms as far as the elbow, more than a week after finishing the West Highlands 1000. Worth seeing my GP? I've read that ongoing numbness related to ulnar damage can be caused by lesions which need treatment. Deltoid muscles also still feel tired - more so than my legs.

I did have a bike fit a year or so back but I may have lost a little flexibility and put on a bit of weight since then, which could be a contributory factor. I also have to admit that I'm one of those cyclists Tomsk mentioned upthread who tends to ride with straight arms. It's a bad habit and I don't necessarily notice I'm doing it at the time, but it's obvious when I see pictures of myself on the bike. Need to address that. I think the problem is that I tend to over-rely on my arms to support my upper body due to a weak core/back. Strengthening exercises may help there. And some weight loss.

Apologies if this is TMI, but another problem from that ride is some ongoing loss of sensation in the tip of my penis. I suspect the cause of this is the DHB shorts I wore on the third day - I could feel the pad bunching up in the middle, probably putting pressure on soft tissues and the pudendal nerve. They're going in the bin. I like to change shorts at intervals on long rides for hygiene but I think I'd have been better off wearing my supremely comfortable Rapha Brevet shorts for the whole three days.

Could also be the seat. If you have not got one, it might be worth looking at a saddle where the middle is missing which helps relive pressure on the perineum nerve. The Selle SMP would get my vote if I was to ever go back riding audax on a df bike.

ISM saddles are also very good for this; they remove practically all pressure from the perineum.  They take a bit of getting used to, though, and not everyone gets on with the wider shape.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
  • 3x Brimstone ancien 3x Pendle/Tan Hill DNF
    • CET Ride Reports and Blogs
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2018, 02:57:06 pm »
I have the same symptoms, numbness in 4th and 5th digits of left hand.  However, my issue is caused by muscle tension and slight displacement of my no 5 vertebrae, and am in the middle of a course of two or three trips to the osteopath to get it all sorted out.

The reason I know this (just as Mick Fitzgerald said when the paramedics reached him at the bottom of Beecher's Brook) is "I've done it before" and I view it as an occupational hazard.  I actually went into the ride with the problem, which is aggravated by work stress, which causes me to hunch.
Eddington Numbers 122 (imperial), 165 (metric) 510 (furlongs)  110 (nautical miles)

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2018, 03:08:49 pm »
See here for in-depth discussion of this from last year:

https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=102871.msg2160763#msg2160763

Spoiler: mine fully recovered

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #37 on: June 14, 2018, 04:27:37 pm »
See here for in-depth discussion of this from last year:

Thanks. Interesting reading.

This comment resonated in particular:

Stabilising a knife and fork using conventional grip is very ulnar nerve dependent.

Do/did you need to hold your cutlery in a fist rather than with an extended index finger?

Oh yes! I'm currently finding cutlery quite difficult to use properly like what I was taught.

Also finding typing tricky (with any degree of accuracy, at least) - this is rather more problematic since it's a fundamental part of my work.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2018, 04:35:36 pm »
The 'intrinsic' hand muscles are  supplied by the ulnar nerve.

They are the ones that move and stabilise straightened fingers sideways and permit a strong 'key grip' of the straightened thumb.

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #39 on: June 15, 2018, 08:55:47 am »
Little fingers still a bit numb 4 weeks after BCM, but they are very slowly improving.

I came to the conclusion that I will have to fit some tri-bars on 400 km and longer rides... which is a bit of a bummer, especially in AAA events... and I'll have to figure out where to clamp the front light but it seems to me the only way to relieve pressure from my ulnar nerve every now and again.

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2018, 09:19:17 am »
Can this problem not be prevented by reducing weight on the hands until it no longer happens?

I see many cyclists with far too much weight on their hands, since they use racing seat-tube angles (close to 74°) on long rides despite having half the power of a pro racer even on short rides. You need to get the saddle back to reduce weight on the hands when pedalling lightly. Long-layback seatposts may be needed.

Of course moving the saddle back will also require that you lower it to prevent excessive toe dip (the body’s way of preventing the knees from overextension). And you might even need to shorten the stem – but often not, since handlebar position is not very important if the hands are not carrying much weight, which is the goal of this exercise.

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #41 on: June 15, 2018, 09:28:22 am »
Can this problem not be prevented by reducing weight on the hands until it no longer happens?

I see many cyclists with far too much weight on their hands, since they use racing seat-tube angles (close to 74°) on long rides despite having half the power of a pro racer even on short rides. You need to get the saddle back to reduce weight on the hands when pedalling lightly. Long-layback seatposts may be needed.

Of course moving the saddle back will also require that you lower it to prevent excessive toe dip (the body’s way of preventing the knees from overextension). And you might even need to shorten the stem – but often not, since handlebar position is not very important if the hands are not carrying much weight, which is the goal of this exercise.

Remove weight from the hands and you put more weight on the saddle and you get saddle sores and maybe even knee problems... you can't win

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #42 on: June 15, 2018, 09:40:02 am »
Remove weight from the hands and you put more weight on the saddle and you get saddle sores and maybe even knee problems... you can't win

If you look at it like that then yes, you can't win. Your weight has to be supported by something. It will be spread across the three (five) contact points of feet, hands and arse (and you can't really count on your feet taking much of the weight for prolonged periods). Either you get the balance right or you'll end up doing something more drastic (give up cycling, don't ride for as long, lose weight, etc) to try and solve it.

It's a lot easier to train your arse to handle longer and longer days in the saddle than it is to deal with the problems you get from too much weight on the hands.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2018, 09:41:57 am »


It's a lot easier to train your arse to handle longer and longer days in the saddle than it is to deal with the problems you get from too much weight on the hands.

I would argue that you only have one way to sit on the saddle, but you can buy a different handlebar which has a wider range of positions available...

I am waiting for someone to chip in with the recumbent argument...  ;D

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #44 on: June 15, 2018, 09:47:23 am »
It's a lot easier to train your arse to handle longer and longer days in the saddle than it is to deal with the problems you get from too much weight on the hands.

I would argue that you only have one way to sit on the saddle, but you can buy a different handlebar which has a wider range of positions available...

There are just as many variations with saddles/seatposts/shorts/etc as there are with different handlebars/stems/tape/padding/mitts/etc.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #45 on: June 15, 2018, 09:58:14 am »
It's a lot easier to train your arse to handle longer and longer days in the saddle than it is to deal with the problems you get from too much weight on the hands.

I would argue that you only have one way to sit on the saddle, but you can buy a different handlebar which has a wider range of positions available...

There are just as many variations with saddles/seatposts/shorts/etc as there are with different handlebars/stems/tape/padding/mitts/etc.

Do you often change your saddle mid way through a ride? My point is that you only have one way to sit on a saddle, give or take a few mm forward or backwards... if you have tri bars, you can rest your weight on your forearms from time to time

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #46 on: June 15, 2018, 10:05:09 am »
But bums (and feet) are made for bearing weight. Hands are not. Furthermore, even excessively loaded hands don’t carry much of your total body weight. So halving the weight on the hands may only increase the weight on the bum by a trivial amount (5%?). That may not even be noticeable. It wasn’t in my case when I finally got some good advice from Colin Thomson, the man who designed the Spa Cycles frames with their notably slack seat tubes. See his PDF and scroll down to saddle setback.

This information seems to have been ‘lost’ at some point in the history of the bicycle. It was clearly understood at some point, because the diamond-frame bicycle had appropriate seat-tube angles for many decades. But now most people – including pro fitters! – think saddle setback is something to do with pedalling dynamics. It’s not, as recumbents should prove. Saddle setback is about weight distribution between saddle and handlebar. Too far forward, and there’s too much weight on the hands. Too far back, and you have to pull up excessively on the handlebars when riding hard.

The amount of times I ride behind someone with visible hand discomfort – seen from gestures like shaking their hands out every ten minutes – is kind of incredible. If you’re not a racer, why use a racing seat-tube angle? That guarantees discomfort because your cantilevered torso must be supported by the hands if the forward pedal is not far enough forward to hold up your torso from pedalling pressure (and, automatically, core strength).

Put another way: even unlimited core strength – your core made of titanium – can not prevent your hands from bearing weight unless it has something to brace against. That all-important reaction comes from the forward (load-bearing) pedal. Obviously it has to be far enough forward, i.e. the saddle far enough back, that your pedalling force can bear your torso weight. The lower the pedalling force, the more forward must be the pedal. Long-distance riding involves low pedalling force.

A nice side-effect of getting the saddle back is that it suddenly becomes more comfortable to ride with a lower torso. Which is more aerodynamic. A lot of cyclists ride more upright than necessary because leaning forward throws weight onto their hands that is intolerable for more than a minute at a time.

Someone will claim a low torso needs an open hip angle, i.e. a steep seat-tube, but again it’s a question of proportion: a change of hip angle of one degree is nearly negligible whereas that same one degree causes a large difference in weight on the hands. It pays to optimise weight with the seat-tube angle.

Of course everyone who rides long distances thinks they’ve already figured out their position. Maybe they’ve even paid a pro fitter (who may not understand the basics above and probably thinks everyone should be set up for crit racing, i.e. high pedalling force).

Handlebar position, shape, tape thickness, glove padding, etc., are all beating about the bush. Get the weight off the hands and they won’t care about any of that. The argumentum ad absurdum is riding no-hands for which you don’t need a handlebar at all.

Hand discomfort should not be seen as inevitable on long rides! And nerve damage is serious stuff. No way would I put up with that just because Specialized (or whomever) sold me a bicycle with an overly steep seat tube for the riding I do.

Kim

  • 2nd in the world
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #47 on: June 15, 2018, 08:37:14 pm »
I am waiting for someone to chip in with the recumbent argument...  ;D

Hand discomfort should not be seen as inevitable on long rides! And nerve damage is serious stuff.

I really don't understand why anyone (other than a pro racer, and even then) would be so committed to a problematic bike geometry to the point of accepting *nerve damage* in their *hands*.  It's not like recumbents aren't proven to solve this issue, and are surely less drastic (and much more fun) than giving up cycling or not doing long rides or whatever.

But uprights are often useful, so discussing strategies for avoiding hand and saddle problems on DFs is perfectly reasonable.  I may prefer recumbents for long rides, but I've found some good advice in threads like this that has made me much happier on my other bikes, and it's readily apparent that some people manage to find a setup that does work for them.

Hands are precious, ffs!  More so than any bike ride, or even a bicycle.  (YMMV)
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #48 on: June 15, 2018, 08:48:05 pm »
Can this problem not be prevented by reducing weight on the hands until it no longer happens?

I see many cyclists with far too much weight on their hands, since they use racing seat-tube angles (close to 74°) on long rides despite having half the power of a pro racer even on short rides. You need to get the saddle back to reduce weight on the hands when pedalling lightly. Long-layback seatposts may be needed.

Of course moving the saddle back will also require that you lower it to prevent excessive toe dip (the body’s way of preventing the knees from overextension). And you might even need to shorten the stem – but often not, since handlebar position is not very important if the hands are not carrying much weight, which is the goal of this exercise.

Remove weight from the hands and you put more weight on the saddle and you get saddle sores and maybe even knee problems... you can't win

Not to speak of pudendal nerve compression. There are quite a few randonneurs who can't get a stiffy...

LMT

Re: [LEL17] numb fingers (cyclist's palsy) after LEL
« Reply #49 on: June 15, 2018, 10:26:04 pm »
I am waiting for someone to chip in with the recumbent argument...  ;D

Hand discomfort should not be seen as inevitable on long rides! And nerve damage is serious stuff.

I really don't understand why anyone (other than a pro racer, and even then) would be so committed to a problematic bike geometry to the point of accepting *nerve damage* in their *hands*.  It's not like recumbents aren't proven to solve this issue, and are surely less drastic (and much more fun) than giving up cycling or not doing long rides or whatever.

But uprights are often useful, so discussing strategies for avoiding hand and saddle problems on DFs is perfectly reasonable.  I may prefer recumbents for long rides, but I've found some good advice in threads like this that has made me much happier on my other bikes, and it's readily apparent that some people manage to find a setup that does work for them.

Hands are precious, ffs!  More so than any bike ride, or even a bicycle.  (YMMV)

It's one of the things that still does make my mind ache. Objectively you would think that your average cyclist would take the option that has shown to be more efficient in terms of being more aero, more efficient in terms of muscles used, more comfortable and overall more fun - but alas people will take the df option.

Agreed that df's do have their uses, of which I use mine for commuting. And I do use a SMP Selle saddle which was a recommendation from a thread like this, so long may they continue. :facepalm: ;D